India’s kirana stores have been successfully turning to digital processes to help in all aspects of their business during the coronavirus pandemic and millions of them are looking to see how they can continue to drive this forward in the future.

These neighbourhood stores were already starting to tap into digital payments and e-commerce, but the nationwide lockdown has accelerated the process.

A new qualitative study by consultancy EY indicates that up to four in ten of the 12 million or so stores across the country are considering how they might partner with online delivery and supply platforms, Business Standard reports.

And one in five stores in metros and non-metros may already be leveraging such platforms. These figures are based on 27 interviews across 12 cities in India, 5 metros and 7 non-metros.

Shashank Shwet, EY India Partner - Customer Experience and Design Thinking, described local stores as “unsung heroes servicing the community at large” during the COVID-19 pandemic and highlighted the way in which they have “adapted to innovation and digital technologies, such as digital payments, changing operating models and reduced friction towards technology”.

The study pointed to the use of chat apps to create “a simplified online journey”, from taking orders to contactless delivery and payment via digital platforms.

Fintech businesses have been quick to spot the opportunity – there’s a wealth of data to be had from outlets that, according to Nielsen,  account for 90% of India’s FMCG sales – and have launched services designed to aid kirana stores.

These include apps enabling them to place bulk orders with distributors, multiple payment options, and facility to record credit given to customers. The CEO of one such app, PayNearby, explained to the Financial Express that “the app helps us enrol retailers for our agent banking programme. But we plan to monetise the data that comes our way through the app”.

One consultancy executive observed, however, that FMCG companies have spent many years building direct distribution to kiranas and won’t easily relinquish that connection.

Sourced from Business Standard, Financial Express, WARC